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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

When my life flashes before my eyes when I die, I'm pretty sure a few frames will be dedicated to my time at The Network...

Get a place on The Network and you will go places!  Sometimes you might even go to famous places… while dressed as a panda having a series of telephone conversations with a lovely lady panda.  Confused?  Read James Fletcher’s story of what happened to him and fellow Network 2011 delegates Owen Cant and Lisa Robson:

My name is James Fletcher and I was a delegate on The Network 2011. It is my career goal to be a comedy producer, and The Network really gave me a push in the right direction. I had a great few days in Edinburgh, and look back at the memories fondly. When my life flashes before my eyes when I die, I'm pretty sure a few frames will be dedicated to my time at The Network - it was that good. The experience was made even better by the fact that I won a competition, in which you had to submit an idea to VisitScotland promoting the country in a 'unique/quirky' way. 

Skip forward ten months, and I'm stood in front of Forth Bridge. The wind ruffles the fur in my Panda costume. People are telling me it looks magnificent, but I can't see a thing, for the eye hole is ingeniously placed in the mouth, and thus is crap. "The bridge looks amazing! You look so funny in front of it!" I hear, as I look at the large Panda feet I'm wearing.

We filmed in a variety of locations; from old castles, to the caverns below Edinburgh, to golf courses, to portrait galleries, to tea rooms. Places you'd never expect to see a Panda. There's a good reason a Panda has never been to Willow Tea Rooms; the spaces in between the tables is rather small, and trying to navigate through them, blind, without smashing anything, was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. The Panda's face was always smiling, but the face under it was a sweaty mix of fear and worry.

In August I was invited to the advert's screening at The Network 2012's finale. It was weird being back and hearing Joe Godwin's closing speech.  As he spoke, I reflected on how far I'd come; not physically, as I was sat in the same room exactly as a year ago, so I hadn't gone anywhere in that regard - but experience wise, my CV is looking much better, and I have a tremendous advert for my show-reel which I'm extremely proud of. 

The Network is brilliant because I went from knowing nobody to knowing sixty plus people who all shared the same passion for working in Television. I didn't really make many contacts with industry professionals (as you can tell from this, I have a testing personality) but I kept in touch with many fellow delegates, and then milked their success, as they put me forward for work experience and made me aware of opportunities. I also found out through The Network's mailing list about the BBC looking for volunteers in Edinburgh during August, which I was successful in applying for, and I probably had the best month of my life there, so the benefits of being a Network delegate continue to grow, like a beautiful tree (of television).

James Fletcher
You can tweet James @themehospital - he especially likes panda related questions.  

Have a look at Owen Cant's blog for the director's perspective:

Many thanks to Noelle Campbell and Ruma Cummins from sponsors VisitScotland, development mentors David Strachan and Andrew Blackwell from Tern TV, Edinburgh Zoo for loan of the panda costume and all the locations used for filming.

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